On April 6, the co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee (JFC), Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) and Sen. Alberta Darling (R- River Hills) issued a memo outlining JFC budget process and starting point.
The memo included 83 non-fiscal policy items that will be removed from the budget. According to the memo, these items “should instead be considered as non-budget legislation by other standing committees.” Removal of non-fiscal policy items from the budget is not unusual, but the decision to removal all items and the quantity is more than recent years. According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, it is only the second time in 25 years JFC removed all non-fiscal policy items.
Of note in the eliminated 83 items, was the governor’s proposal to repeal prevailing wage for state building and highway projects, eliminate certain boards and councils, require Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) to study the transfer of CAFO regulation to DATCP from DNR, and the proposal to allow prisoners to participate in work programs in county jails.
In their memo, the co-chairs also stated that the JFC will use the governor’s budget as the beginning point for their votes, except for the Department of Transportation. Instead, JFC will work from base budget, or current law for DOT’s budget. This decision underscores the tension between the legislature and the governor on transportation funding. The governor remains committed to his pledge of no tax increases, while Assembly Republicans and some Senate Republicans believe revenue uppers need to be considered. However, several Senate Republicans are more closely aligned to the governor’s position and would likely not approve a gas tax.
JFC is expected to begin taking votes on the 2017-19 budget in May.
Budget Errata Submitted
A few days prior on March 31, Gov. Scott Walker’s budget office released a technical errata report. The 76-page document included technical adjustments to the governor’s budget that were intended to be in the original budget bill.
Among other corrections, the errata report clarifies the language of the Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit. Walker’s original budget states that the income on which the credit is calculated must be reduced by the amount of qualified production income that is taxed in another state that “may be claimed” under the Taxes Paid to Other States Credit. The errata changes “may be claimed” to “is claimed” to eliminate potential loophole of a manufacturer earning both the Manufacturing and Agriculture and Taxes Paid to Other State credits.